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You've validated your business idea - what's next?

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Alice Coates

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You've validated your business idea - what's next?

With the EnergyInc Program wrapping up last month, the founders are now well on their way to growing their business. So, after they’ve validated their business ideas and started talking to customers, what’s next?

We’re here to share with you the latest advice from our the program team and expert advisors that recently spoke to the EnergyInc cohort as part of the Investment Panel Discussion.

Here is a summary of what each panellist had to say:

Seeking Funding from VCs

Prof. Matthew Cuthbertson, Chairman of Victorian CleanTech Fund

Hot Tips:

  • Primarily, get out there, pitch your ideas, establish connections and network.
  • When presenting yourself, be authentic and build authentic relationships.
  • Do your research into funding bodies, what are their objectives, how can YOU help THEM

So how does this work in practice?

Step 1: Find funding bodies by attending events, making connections, doing the leg work to get noticed.

Matthew says, “Find us, tell us who you are and why we should care about you. Show us you understand who we are and what we are trying to do; tell us what’s special and how you can make a contribution.”

Step 2. Make an impression.

Once you’ve got an audience you need to make sure you hit the targets that they’re looking for and stand out to the investors. Matthew suggested three core elements that investors look for when evaluating startups:

  • Being a good fit for the investment fund: For VCTF this includes being a startups that is contributing towards the energy transition. Meaning the startup needs to have environmental or emissions impact or a significant sustainable impact. So make sure you’ve done your research and know how to align your company’s vision to the objectives of the fund.
  • Have a good team: As they say in tech, invest in people not products. So does your startup have a team with capacities, skills and motivations to succeed? And how can you best showcase those skills?
  • Have a plan: Investors want to know where their money will go. They want to know how you’re going to grow and how you’re going to use the money for maximal returns. Make sure to use meaningful metrics and be clear around the milestones and returns.

Step 3. Once a connection is established, follow up.

Seeking Funding From The Government

Peter Hansford, Former Business Development Manager, Renewable Energy at DEWLP

As a startup, VCs are not the only place to get funding. The government also has some grants and support available to kick start a startup's growth.

According to Peter, government grants may not be the best place to find funding as an early stage startup. But there is plenty of support, mentorship and direction available.

Essentially, government is a great place to seek advice and provide guidance on avenues for exploration. If you have a proposition it is important that you try and share it with people in the environment and test your business idea within the network- government is a great place to go for that.

In general, if you’re seeking funding from government or any other funding body, everyone is looking to a founder to have Purpose, Passion, Plan, Persistence.

Keep that in mind.

Seeking Funding as Startup

David Stribley, Co-Founder HAMR Energy

Last, but not least, David Stribley, one of the EnergyNext alumni, also shared his experience seeking funding as a startup. He’s dealt with both government, VCs and also worked with corporate partners to get funding and these were his main takeaways:

  • You will need credibility to successfully fundraise; look to enhance your validity through networking
  • Partnerships will help build your credibility; establish corporate partners, allies and key mentors that know what you’re doing and trust you.
  • When reaching out, do your research and contact key personnel in an organisation - usually employees at the higher levels are more likely to generate successful outcomes for your business.
  • Show mutual benefit when approaching funding bodies, partners and mentors
  • Have a goal when going into a meeting and make sure you’re communicating that effectively and taking notes on next steps to achieve that goal.
  • Follow up: Once you’ve established connections, keep in touch. Because you have taken notes and have established a clear pathway to achieve the goal make sure you’re keeping yourselves and the other party accountable for delivering on those milestones.

Enjoyed this advice from our investor panel discussion? You can sign up to our newsletter to be updated with more relevant information and events that you can attend as a startup.

Alice Coates avatar

Alice Coates

Program Manager @ Startupbootcamp Australia